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‘Health Chatter’: Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health Blog



Get involved in research: parents helping us to reduce inequalities in cancer

By rmjdafo, on 15 January 2015

Vaccination is one of the best methods we have for preventing the spread of infection diseases. Thanks to vaccination, the last human case of smallpox was seen in 1977. Vaccination against polio has also made a lot of progress and the disease has almost been wiped out. Earlier last year, polio was only seen spreading between people in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

In 2006 a vaccine protecting against the human papillomavirus (HPV) was licensed. HPV is very common and in most people causes no problems. However, some people are not able to get rid of the infection. Lasting infection with HPV can cause cervical cells to change, and, if they are not treated, can lead to cervical cancer. Unsurprisingly, cancer researchers were excited when the vaccination was developed against the 2 types of HPV that are involved in most cases of cervical cancer. In 2008, vaccination against HPV was recommended by the UK Government for 12 and 13 year old girls in the UK. The vaccine currently being used in the UK childhood immunisation schedule also protects against anogenital warts.

Information from Public Health England tells us that most girls are getting the vaccine. However, research suggests that girls from Black and Asian ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to get the vaccine than girls from White ethnic backgrounds. In the UK, children under the age of 16 need permission from their parents to receive vaccinations, so for us to be able to understand why girls from Black and Asian ethnic minority backgrounds aren’t getting the HPV vaccine, we need to speak to their parents. I have recently been given a Cancer Research UK – BUPA Cancer Prevention Fellowship to do three studies to look into this some more.

First, we will do an interview study with parents to work out why girls from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to get the vaccine. In the second study, we will develop tools to help parents make informed decisions about HPV vaccination. Finally, we will do a feasibility study to see whether a future randomised controlled trial is possible.

We want to make sure that the research we do it meaningful to the people we are studying. We would therefore like to speak to parents from Black and Asian minority ethnic backgrounds to help plan this research.

Parents can help us:
• Make sure that we plan studies that people would be happy to take part in;
• Work out how best to ask people to take part;
• Work out what the research findings mean;
• Tell other people about the research findings.
What will parents be asked to do?
• We would need parents to attend a group meeting to discuss the project.
• There will be two more meetings over the next three years that we hope they can join.
• Parents do not need any specialist knowledge – we will give them all the support they need.
What is in it for parents?
• We will give parents £25 as a thank you for their time.
• We will also pay for any travel costs of getting to the meeting.
• The meeting will last one hour and refreshments will be provided.
• The research team are happy to give talks to any community groups/schools as an additional thank you parents for their involvement.
We hope that parents will find being involved a fulfilling experience. The first meeting will be in late January 2015, and will be held at a time and place that is convenient to the parents involved. Eight community members will attend the meeting.

How can I get involved?
Please get in touch if you would like any more information or if you know of someone who might want to be involved. Dr Alice Forster – 0203 108 3293 – alice.forster@ucl.ac.uk

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